The most important thing to note between Customer Journey and Customer Experience, is that it’s not you who decides if the customer’s experience is a positive or a negative one.
What you can do, though, is to create journeys that help to move the customer through a positive narrative, increasing the odds of a positive experience.
Whether it’s the journey of booking a job, processing a payment, or meeting the engineer on-site—to name just a few—each of these touchpoints can lead them to have a good or bad experience of your business.
What that depends on, though, is whether or not you’ve taken the time to optimise these journeys for the modern consumer…
More than ever, people expect convenience, speed, and efficiency. As such, the way you interact with customers—whether it’s a phone call, SMS, email, or on your website—needs to be crafted so that you can meet these expectations.
“If a website takes more than 4 seconds to load, the person viewing is almost guaranteed to click away to a different website. Speed and efficiency are not a luxury, they’re a necessity!” – NaturalForms + Commusoft
Communication needs to be as frictionless as possible and that’s where digital solutions come in incredibly handy.
Remove friction for customer journeys, externally:
Another way to think about it is like this: whenever a customer interacts with your business, it’s an opportunity to win them over, and that’s no matter what stage they’re at in their buyer’s journey.
So long as interactions are consistent, stress-free, and run smoothly, it will give them a positive impression of your business, which can lead to a win for you, too.
For instance, consider a job estimate:
A good customer journey for someone who wants a job estimate might not mean a sale right now for you, but if it’s delivered in the right way (i.e. through an estimate portal), it’s a step in the right direction. This is especially true if your competitors aren’t geared up in the same way.
After all, if you have a solution that gives the customer the answer they needed, with zero fuss, it could be enough to convince them to come back and buy from you somewhere down the line. But: if it took numerous phone calls, emails, or a slow-to-load website to still not get a straightforward answer…well, would you go back to that business?
Speaking of websites, take a look at our video: Field Service Website Review – Part 1!
We’ve reviewed Best Practices in website development for field service businesses. Here, you can see examples to help give your businesses ideas of what to do (and what improvements could be made) for your own website!
Not all customer journeys will be the same. You’ll know that some customers may stop short at simply asking how much a service costs, others might cancel a job even before it’s started, and then there are those who will see a job right through from the very first estimate to the final invoice (which is what you want, of course).
There’s a bunch of different reasons that could prevent a customer from going through from start to finish, but this is why it’s important to consider what you can do to improve the odds. By removing friction from each and every journey with a digital solution, you can do just that.
To help, you also need to ask questions about your processes, such as:
- “Is the way customers book appointments affecting their decision to use our service?”
- “Could we improve the way we notify customers about a booked job?”
- “What can I do to make it easier for customers to pay us on time?”
These questions can also carry over to another core aspect of your business. your database.
If you’re not using a database, you should be! Customer Relationship Management is essential and will be as it’s best when it’s digitised.
It allows you to access customer data quickly, reduce admin time, and any good CRM will be accessible both in-office, as well as remotely in the field.
In addition, check out our other page: 6 Functions of a Customer Relationship Management System for Field Service Businesses
We’ll have answers to the questions above, shortly, so keep reading to find out more! In the meantime, let’s take a quick look at how removing friction from customer journeys also means removing friction for your own staff:
Removing friction for your business, internally:
Figuring out what you can do to optimise these journeys (and more, as you’ll see below) isn’t necessarily a small task, but it is an essential one. Fortunately, it also doesn’t have to be difficult. Sometimes, it can be as easy as thinking about how you interact with your customers:
As our CEO, Jason Morjaria puts it:
“It’s not always a huge revolutionary change you have to make—communication can solve some of those problems entirely—we’re talking about communicating with customers, keeping them up to date, and really understanding their anxieties so you can put measures in place.”
Taking care of a simple but potentially big problem, like communication (i.e. with regular relevant emails, service reminders, or through engineer arrival updates), can help build trust (and maintain it) with customers, but you can make it easier on yourself (and admin staff) through automated, easy-to-implement technology. These don’t have to cost you the earth either, and can even help you bring in more revenue, as we’ll see.
These are just a few of the reasons why it’s more important to focus on customers journeys and interactions they have, rather than just thinking about their final experience.
It’s important to ask questions about your staff and service as well. This is why we put together a great checklist that can help you, particularly if you’re new to managing customer data with a customer relationship management (CRM) system.
Download yours, free: A Checklist to Customer Relationship Management
Get the journeys right and the positive experiences will follow more consistently. To hear more about Customer Journeys, as well as some of the personal experiences we’re sure will sound familiar, click below to watch Jason (our CEO) and Jack (UK Sales Manager) in our first episode of Success in the Field!
Going paperless carries with it a lot of connotations. It could be because you’ve:
- Made a decision to “go green”
- Want to update your systems
- Wish to focus on sustainability
These are all great goals to strive for, but where do they stem from?
Well, in our minds, business decisions should often come from a desire to do right by your customers.
So, that being said, choosing to go paperless whilst keeping customer journeys at the forefront of your mind, will most definitely enable you to do just that.
We said before that communicating clearly with customers can help to build trust and we think it’s safe to say that’s really at the root of what “going paperless” really means.
After all, we’ve all experienced problems with customer service and it’s mainly down to inefficient systems. The B2B software experts at G2 certainly know a thing or two about that, and you can learn more about why they say Customer Service is King, here. However; whether it’s the inability to get in touch over the phone, long delays to get confirmations, rudeness (resulting from or leading to more frustration), or difficulties in admin processes, like lost job sheets and inaccurate data: there’s a lot of damage that an inefficient system can cause to customer satisfaction.
What going paperless (or, as much as is humanly possible) can do, is help to ensure that data (whether it’s that if your customers, or your own—such as stock or finance info—is stored securely in one, easy to access location.
This removes the potential not only to create unnecessary waste paper, but it also gives you actual space by reducing physical storage. In addition, you also reduce the risk of information being lost or damaged (paper is a fire hazard, after all) and digital back-ups are easier than ever to sort out with cloud storage, too!
We’ve got plenty of resources available to help explain how you can digitalise your field service business, so consider this as a great spot to get all the info you need.
Learn more: The Guide to Going Paperless in the Office.
Going Paperless and Using Automation
Going paperless is one thing you can do, but taking steps to then automate processes is another (you can read more, here: 5 steps that any business should consider for automation). These two concepts go hand-in-hand, though you don’t need to rush to do both immediately.
This is especially true if you’re making a transition from a more traditional way of doing things…
As tech-savvy as people are these days, many still aren’t and even then, a lot of change in one go can be overwhelming, particularly if you’ve been running your business the same old way for years and years!
While the paperless and automated approaches are both beneficial, you’ll want to do the smart thing and make sure they’re implemented correctly.
Remember: you have to learn to walk before you can run and whilst job management software can be easy to use, you should still take the time to get the most out of it. Whether that means researching what software is right for your business or taking the time to learn how to use it properly, through training.
It’s important to do this sooner, rather than later. A digital outlook is absolutely necessary if you want your business to survive and (ultimately) thrive:
“We’re approaching a point of exponential growth in technology, where advancements that would’ve taken decades before, now occur in a matter of months. Remember when phones were the size of a TV remote?
These days some would even argue you simply can’t run a business without technology. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How far behind is my business right now?
- How much further behind will I be in the near future
- Will I be left in the dust by competitors?”
If you feel like the answer to any of those questions concerns you (especially the first), then it’s certainly worth taking the time to weigh up the options that are available to you.
If you feel like you are behind the times and want to catch-up (that may be immediately obvious if you find you’re doing a lot of physical paperwork), then you might be particularly interested in the following eBook: “What is Digitisation?”, from which the above quote is taken. We wrote that piece in partnership with the technical experts at NaturalForms, and if you’re unfamiliar with them, you should definitely check them out too! In addition, have you thought about automation for your marketing efforts? It could be something to give your communication a boost as well, and our friends at Omnisend have some useful insight too.
As far as automation is concerned, whether it’s Planned Preventive Maintenance for your clients, or how best to make use of Mass Scheduling for your engineers, automation really is a great tool. With it, you can optimise and manage a whole variety of tasks from your operations manager, office staff, to engineers in the field, including:
- Increased Productivity
- Optimised Performance
- Reduced Costs (and increased earnings!)
- Enhanced Communication
- Improved Reliability
If you want to get started, then you should take a look at the Practical Guide to Automation, just click below.
Going Paperless (well, mostly).
While there are still good times to send out letters—after all, it can be seen as quite a statement to receive a physical letter, particularly if it’s late bill payment, or an expense you’re chasing—but generally speaking, it’s not the way you should be interacting with your customers on a regular basis.
Email is the way forward, and even then you’ve got more people than ever using SMS, WhatsApp and Social Media to connect instead. These options should be at the top of your list, not stamps, letters and post.
You can make use of email template guides if you or your colleagues aren’t happy with your current solutions, but adopting software can alleviate a load of admin work. For instance, just responding to a customer and confirming even simple things, it should be instantaneous, not require days and days (or even weeks) like it did in the past.
After all: a clearer, cleaner way of doing things will result in less waste, productive use of everyone’s energy, and more efficient use of digital resources.
The paperless approach can help prevent the overuse of physical resources (like paper, ink, fuel, etc) which damage the environment, and even hurt people’s health as well. Is there really a good reason to keep acting otherwise?
We touched briefly on the idea of training above, but that’s because your staff are essential in making sure that your customer journeys are great, too.
Some of those journeys, after all, require meeting people: whether it’s the engineer who visits an individual at their home, or the customer service staff who assist over the phone: these count as journeys as well.
Making sure that customers enjoy these interactions is just as important as the digital journeys they take as well. Once again, you can use tech to help turn staff into experts, too.
There are more than a few tools you can use to help your engineers out, though really it’s all about streamlining communication (honestly: communication will get you places!) and ensuring that your interactions give customers peace of mind.
After all, we’ve all heard horror stories of rogue traders impersonating businesses and doing shoddy work to make a quick quid. Your aim, then, is to demonstrate that your engineers (and by association, your business), is trustworthy.
We don’t doubt your engineers are all a trustworthy bunch, but it never hurts to highlight best practices and make sure they’re prepared to benefit your customers, either. That means greeting customers politely, being clean and tidying up after themselves, giving advice where needed.
Generally speaking, it’s about following an “above and beyond” approach, which can make all the difference to a customer’s reaction to your business. To do that, and make them feel valued, it makes sense to optimise your processes so staff have the time (and develop the passion) to deliver that to the customer.
With digital tools at their fingertips, there’s no limit to what they can achieve…
When optimising your workforce you need to think about those of your staff in the office, as well as those out in the field. Help one and you help the other!
Learn more: The Guide to Going Paperless in the Field.
Make use of a customer database
As discussed, the way you manage your customer data needs to be digitalised if you’re going to provide excellent customer care. Amongst reducing paper waste, it also allows you to save time on admin effort, personalise the experience your customers have, and help improve customer retention.
You can find out more here, but the main takeaway is that you need to make sure you’re in a position to work efficiently and the only way to do that is to choose a tech-based solution.
Don’t just do it for your customers either, but for yourself and your staff! You can make the whole process of going digital that much easier if you take steps to optimise your scheduling through tools like, service reminders, invoice portals, and more, thanks to a quality CRM.
Learn more by clicking below: How to Build a Customer Database!
Make use of an Engineer Profile Portal
Of course, you’ll deal with all sorts of customers, but for anyone, the idea of having a stranger in their home (even to do work they’ve asked for), can still be intimidating. Many customers are likely to be concerns like:
- When will the engineer arrive?
- Is the engineer qualified?
- How do I know they are who they’ve said?
One feature, in particular, that’s excellent is an engineer profile portal, where details can provide customers with simple but reassuring details, like:
- The engineer’s name
- A photo
- Their industry credentials/qualification (such as Gas Safe ID)
The customer will appreciate receiving a text message or email that updates them, and these small details can bring a surprising amount of peace of mind.
That said, even if the customer isn’t super concerned—and ideally, they shouldn’t have any reason to be—passing on the information can still have a positive impact of putting their mind at ease. If a quick glance at a text or email confirmation helps prevent any issues, then job done!
A relationship based on trust is about a lot more than capping all your wires and cleaning up after yourself (though be sure to do that, too); it’s about being reliable and making an impression every step of the way.
How about that for service?!
Opportunities for Training
If you’re keen to discover more about how your engineers can become customer service experts, then you won’t want to miss out on the Customer Service Cheatsheet, click below!
Finally, here’s a list of additional resources you can use to boost your team, from infographics to ebooks, you’re sure to find something to help you out!
What’s the use of the website being up 24/7 anyway when you only have staff manning the phones for 8 hours every working day?
That leaves oh-so-very much time where you can miss out on opportunities to convert a query into a sale. The same goes for collecting payments and issuing feedback requests (amongst other things).
With Online Portals you can transform your business into a powerhouse of customer data and empower customers to come to you. These interactions can give your business the ability to attract, help, and provide great customer journeys at any time of the day.
That all being said, here are 5 main portals to be aware of:
Engaging customers to take them on quality journeys is best done online. Of course, there’s still a great deal to think of when it comes to interacting with them in person, but considering consumers will spend a great amount of time browsing, enquiring, and interacting with you online, it makes sense to optimise your business to give it the best chance of providing high-quality digital interactions. It’s what online customer service is all about.
Making use of even a basic booking portal or online form is very easy.
A typical booking portal for your website generally consists of embedding a simple bit of code. However, the impact this “bit of code” makes can be profound, especially when it’s synced up to your job management software.
It’s important to keep things simple and clean: clarity is your best friend when it comes to online booking:
- Customer name
- Preferred date
- Preferred time
- The service they’re interested in
- A (limited) space for additional comments
That’s all you need to get the ball rolling; the fewer calls and fewer clicks the better!
Adopting an estimates portal is all about reducing friction to make payments easy. The admin effort you’d otherwise spend becomes condensed and much time that your staff might spend on each step of preparing, sending, and getting confirmation of an estimate becomes significantly reduced, or can even be dropped entirely.
With an estimates portal, when a customer inquires about a job, you can:
- Email a web-link that takes them to a webpage (aka, a portal).
- They review the details and can accept the estimate with a few easy clicks.
- If you require a deposit, the same page can allow them to pay then and there.
Not only that, but it also demonstrates a more environmentally friendly process (reducing the need for printing and signing paper), and isn’t that just the icing on the cake?
Learn more: How to Give an Estimate Using Online Software.
Engineer-Profile and Tracking Portal
More often than not, it’s the dispatch phase that’s the most prone to fueling distrust in customers and turning it into a negative touchpoint. It’s the biggest disruption to the customer’s routine and usually involves them severely altering their normal activities to accommodate a stranger into their home or business space.
If you can send customers a notification with a link and update for when the engineer is due to arrive, then that’s a great first step. Even better is a visual indication—Uber-style—of the engineer’s journey as they make their way to the customer. These things can do a lot to put their minds at ease and make them feel like they’re not wasting their time.
From checking estimates to confirming quotes, to making the final payment, it’s hardly a secret that digital interactions are an improvement on the old fashioned way of invoicing and bookkeeping.
They’re quick, clear, and secure: a trifecta of reasons that lead to awesome journeys.
For invoicing, a lot of companies will now provide a link via email that leads customers to a secure payment page (or invoice portal) that you can access at the press of a button and then complete. Easy as pie, right? The experience is pretty much seamless from the moment you get the email notification to the final “Paid” confirmation.
Learn more: How Electronic Invoicing Boosts Revenue
After-Sales Care Portal
The best time to get feedback is sooner rather than later. Contacting customers in the right way is important too. Leave it too long and people can forget, which makes feedback less relevant. On top of that, with everyone so busy and easily distracted these days, it’s best not to dilly-dally, as delays make it more likely they’ll choose not to respond at all.
An after-sales care portal is a highly effective means of getting paperless feedback that’s useful. Not only do you get feedback faster, but you free up time that your staff would otherwise spend on what is often a very admin-heavy task. You’d rather spend time practically applying the feedback to improve customer experience than too much time collecting it in the first place, right?
You can also find out more information about how these portals contribute to improving customer experience here. However, to see what Commusoft can do for you, why not check out our feature page, where you can discover precisely how Commusoft can elevate your field service business deliver world-class customer journeys.
Not to worry, we’ve prepared just that with an essential infographic that highlights the importance of Using Portals vs Going Without, all so you can craft excellent Customer Journeys.
A well-managed database is the best way for you to harness the knowledge you need to care for your customers and keep them coming back.
Your customers are the lifeblood of your business and accurate, accessible knowledge will give you the power to treat each one of them as you’d like to be treated; as individuals with particular needs.
Focus on making great customer journeys that, like any great holiday you’ve ever been on, will make them want to go back again and again!
If you’re still not 100% clear on customer journeys and retention, then, consider this:
Everyone knows what Amazon is. Everyone also knows why they keep going back to them; time, after time, after time.
The truth of the matter is it’s the experience of their services which, to put mildly: is pretty great.
On a simple level, consider how it feels when it comes to using their e-commerce site or mobile app. It loads quickly, lets you uncover in-depth information about a product, it’s simple to navigate and filter content, all so you can find what you need, build a virtual shopping basket, and buy it.
The same goes for their other services too, like music and films. What Amazon has done with each of their products isn’t anything new, but they understood the journeys that their customers take and took steps to make them easy and convenient to interact with.
Whether it’s, researching, comparing, ordering, paying, reviewing, and more! Each of those stages is an individual journey, and each is so well-crafted that if asked you’d likely say: “yes, I had a positive experience of Amazon”.
For your field service business, you need to consider the same approach to the journeys that you’re taking your customers on. The portals above are a great way to do just that. They may not lead you to achieve global economic domination (though, if that is your goal, then more power to you), but the convenience you can offer both customers and your staff is an excellent result, too.
View our infographic: 6 Ways to Improve Customer Retention
You should want your customers to return to your business for as long as they believe (and trust) that you can help them. That’s whether they’re:
- Getting an estimate
- Making a booking
- Experiencing the engineer on-site
- Paying for the service
- Reviewing the work done
These touchpoints are all journeys, and when they’re done well, they can bring the customer back to your virtual door, all so that you can arrive physically at theirs and provide a great service: no worries!
The Power of Service Reminders
We’ve spoken before about Service Reminders and how essential they are to helping your business grow, but they’re also a great way of keeping customers coming back. Appointment reminders to keep customers in the loop is a great way to keep them happy and engaged with your services.
A simple nudge is all it takes to remind them that a product needs servicing, and when done in the right way it can be unobtrusive, helpful, and lead to a win for both of you.
Depending on the clients you work with, these can be simple services or bigger jobs, but either way, service reminders are an awesome way to invite extra revenue to your business. All whilst keeping that essential line of communication open, and often – when automation is involved – without you having to lift a finger!
It may sound like we’re repeating ourselves, but we can’t stress enough how important it is to communicate with your customers. Obviously, it’s important to note that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach: every customer is different after all and no one message works for everyone.
However, you can at least take some of the stress out by using familiar templates. This is why we’ve also put together another set of resources for you to use:
Further Reading and Resources:
Whether you’re HVAC, Fire & Security, Plumbing, Heating, Electrical, or any besides, your aim should be to create the perfect customer journeys.
Do that—and with a bit of effort—you can guide your staff, your customers, and your business to those successful experiences that benefit everyone.
You can learn more about how Commusoft can help by checking out our Complete Guides, below. however, for a visual cue, why not check out our demo video? Our lovely team present all you need to know to get you started and learn what Commusoft can do for you.
Start your World Class #CustomerJourneys, today!
Consider The Complete Guides to…
- Restart Guide for 2020
- Building a Customer Database
- Workforce Scheduling
- Stock Management
- Raising Prices